Winter Blues

After almost a month of vacation and two weeks of family illness, returning to work has been difficult. Not only because vacation is a nice place to be, but also because winter in the northern rocky mountains is very cold, windy, and grey for the better part of January and February.

After the excitement of the holidays and fun of having time off, one can find that they have a lot less motivation for their required activities. Things like going to work, cleaning house, spending time with others, and even things we enjoy doing do not seem as appealing when enduring the winter blues.

So what can we do to cope with this time of year and the lack of motivation and even depression for some that comes with it?

Anytime the weather is even remotely nice, we need to get outside. Even if it is for a short amount of time, it can make a big difference. Getting out into the sunshine can be extremely beneficial during the “grey months”. A short walk or even a drive, a trip to the grocery store or to visit a favorite specialty store where we live, a cup of coffee with a friend at a local coffeehouse or restaurant can all provide a much needed escape from the housebound doldrums.

Being intentional about getting up out of bed, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and changing your clothes. Often times, the urge to just stay in bed and do nothing can be powerful during the “grey months”. We can convince ourselves that because we can’t venture outside due to weather or don’t want to due to how we feel, that we shouldn’t bother with activities of daily living. No one is going to see us right? This only increases our feelings of loss of motivation and depression.

Making sure that you are eating regularly and healthy. Another thing we overlook during the “grey months” is eating properly. If we are doing a lot of nothing, we tend to not eat or graze eat anything that is handy. Usually those things are not that good for us, chips, cookies, candy, etc. Once again, we need to be intentional about getting proper nutrition during these times. Having food on hand to make small meals throughout our day that are warm and nutritious. Also making sure we stay hydrated with water is very important.

Keeping up our physical health by getting some form of exercise most every day and by taking healthy vitamins and supplements to keep up our immunity. The “grey months” also bring a variety of illnesses that we need to be strong to have minimal symptoms should we get sick. Exercise offers two benefits, keeping us active and healthy and releasing endorphins to keep our brain active and happy.

If where you live there is little sunshine during these months, a seasonal affective light could be extremely helpful. Getting light is so very important to how we feel.

Writing and/or journaling about how you are feeling, making goals and plans that you can follow through on, adding in some creative touches and artwork to your writings can all help you release emotions held in the body.

If you feel that you are getting very depressed and cannot seem to do any of the things above most days, seeking out help through therapy and/or adding medications to your mental health management can be very helpful. Reach out for help.

The “grey months” can be tough for a lot of people but there are things you can do to endure them in a more healthy and happy way. Start with one thing and keep doing it and then add another and another. If you need more help, please seek it out. And remember, this is a moment in time and brighter, warmer days are coming soon.

Winter Blahs

Photo by Zhang Kenny on Unsplash

Many of my clients are experiencing what I would call the winter blahs. The time of year where just being a lump of flesh under warm blankets with fuzzy slippers and doing little else seems the preferable way of living.

While some only have a slight case, others have what would be considered something more. It is a short few steps from winter blahs to depression. And it is an easy road to travel this time of year especially. Making it worse than winters past is the ongoing specter of COVID and everything that comes with it.

The winter months always come with shorter days, which means less sunlight, when there is sunlight. And that leads the next thing, there is less sunlight with more overcast and cloudy days that can include lots of rain or lots of snow. Inclement weather makes it more difficult and less enjoyable to be outside in many cases, especially if the temperatures are very cold. All of this seems to translate into an innate instinct to hibernate much as many animals do this time of year.

Unfortunately, with COVID many of use have already been basically hibernating for several months already. This leads to a feeling of “never ending” hibernation. That we are somehow trapped inside and going out may never come again. Add to that some extra pounds for many of us due to the sheer boredom of being inside so long and running out of things to inspire us or motivate us.

Inspiration and motivation continue to shrink as our waistline expands. And we feel more and more like the lump of flesh our minds believe us to be. A vicious circle of winter blahs that have actually been going on for far longer.

Winter is not over though it is moving at a rapid pace it seems as it is now February. Yet, it continues, and how do we find motivation and inspiration when much of what surrounds us remains the same.

Just as with any habit, we do it in small bits, repeated until habits form, and then we add small bits to it and repeat the process. Pick one thing you want to incorporate into your life right now, that can be done in a very small way and repeated for at least 20 to 30 days, which is how long most people take to form something into a habit. When that habit is formed and you do it without having to think about it or make yourself do it, add another small something or a bigger part of the first habit to increase it and repeat again for 20 to 30 days.

And look it will be April and spring will be near.

What will your small one thing be starting today?

Until next time be well,